Ackman-backed group in $3.5bn crop spray deal

Michael Bow
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Arysta LifeScience boasts more than 3,500 product registrations around the globe
AGROCHEMICAL firm Arysta LifeScience was sold by its private equity backer for $3.5bn yesterday to a chemicals company part-owned by activist investor Bill Ackman.

Arysta, which boasts more than 3,600 fungicide and herbicide type products, has been acquired by Platform Specialty Products, a group listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Arysta’s former backer, UK-based buyout shop Permira, bought the company in 2008 for €1.95bn and has helped grow annual net sales to $1.5bn, according to 2013 results.

Platform plans to combine Arysta with two of its other companies – CAS and Agriphar – to create cost savings of $65m. The company has Bill Ackman’s hedge fund vehicle Pershing Square, a long time advocate of operational change, as its top shareholder,

Arysta boss Wayne Hewett will also join Platform’s senior leadership team as president and lead the combination of the three firms.

“The strength of Arysta’s strategy is evident through the growth we have exhibited in recent years and having Platform as our new home and the benefit of the products and personnel within CAS and Agriphar will provide us with additional resources and talent to accelerate this momentum,” he said in a statement.

The deal will be funded through cash, convertible equity, debt and equity, with Barclays, Credit Suisse, UBS, and Nomura helping finance the deal.

The banks also acted as M&A advisers to Platform while Permira, which owns a host of big names like Hugo Boss and New Look, used advisers from Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan.

Permira partner John Coyle said the deal was “testament to the significant transformation” of the firm since Permira and Hewett took over.

Platform founder and chairman Martin Franklin called the deal a “watershed event” for his firm.

“Over the past twelve months we have demonstrated significant progress and exercised tremendous discipline as we executed against our build-up strategy,” he added.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.